Improve your products and services
Shoppers have never been more careful about how they spend
There is so much choice these days with the world and
their fingertips buying on the internet.
So what are your growth strategies to compete?
1. Review your products.
Before you decide whether to adapt your products or services, take a look at what you have. How well are you meeting the needs of existing customers? Which lines are selling well and which ought to be dropped? Analysis of your whole range of products or services and look at the bigger picture to suit the needs of your customers.
2. Continually review changes in your market sector.
Tough times inspire ingenious thinking and there are bound to change during any recession. Has technology moved on? Have people changed their sales and marketing techniques? What new trends are emerging? Talk to your existing and potential customers and suppliers to glean their thoughts. It is also worth subscribing to industry magazines and newsletters to find out what is going on in your business sector.
3. Consider how you might expand your existing offering.
You don’t need to make wholesale changes – a growth strategy may only be a matter of tweaking what you have. One option could be to introduce a premium range of products or services or you could offer greater seasonal variation in what you sell? Perhaps you should think about complementary products or even diversifying into a new area.
4. Complement and diversify.
Many firms have survived the recession by offering related products and services or by diversifying into new areas. If you use garden centres as an example, you will have seen them selling household furniture, gifts, pet products and more. Another example, hairdressers, now often offer a comprehensive range of beauty therapies, alongside beauty products. Also, think building firms providing DIY training; office-based firms renting desk space to freelancers, and so on. If you plan to branch out, do your research first and don’t stray too far from your area of expertise.
5. Offer added value to customers.
If funds are tight, you may need to re-think your growth strategies and rein them in slightly. Think about offering new added-value services rather than investing in fresh stock or equipment. You could think about providing free local delivery, weekend opening, technical support, free returns or special offers exclusive to online customers. None of these will cost the earth, but can strengthen customer loyalty and retention as well as customer satisfaction.
6. Create new partnerships.
Opportunities to build new relationships often arise as markets change. Why not consider a joint venture or partnership with another business which serves a slightly different market? This could be mutually beneficial as the recovery takes hold and consumer confidence returns.
7. Reconsider the way you sell and who you sell to.
It may not be your product or service that is holding you back, but your approach to sales and marketing. Market pressure often inspires innovation – take a tip from Nintendo Game Boy. This was rebranded for a more senior age group when other manufacturers introduced devices that were more appealing to the core games market. The change of focus for the consul was a clever move as it extended its market reach and its overall longevity. Could your offer be repackaged for a completely new market?
8. Ask customers and suppliers what they think.
Before making any proposed changes, make sure you discuss with your customers and suppliers and ask if they think you’re doing the right thing. If you need more stock, equipment or services, can you work out a deal with suppliers? Does your revamped offer actually meet customers’ needs and would they be prepared to pay for it? Have a trial period and always pay attention to feedback.
9. Open up new sales channels.
A key strategy to improve your offer without actually changing it is to make it easier and more convenient to find and to buy. If you can sell online, then do so; attend fairs and shows if appropriate; explore third party sales opportunities like retail outlets and even franchising; recruit a sales agent to investigate and open up new territories, including overseas. In short, explore the possibilities to reach the most customers in the most cost-effective ways.
10. Create an ongoing feedback process.
However and wherever you sell, your growth strategies must always ensure your customers have the opportunity to rate and comment on the standards of your goods and services. Make sure you have a short customer satisfaction survey at the point of sale and make customers feel as comfortable as possible offering their opinion verbally. Listen and respond to feedback and use it to further improve your offer.